The Basics

Type 1 Diabetes:

In a body of someone who has Type 1 Diabetes, their pancreas doesn’t function properly. It makes either a little bit of insulin, or none at all. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which allows blood sugar to enter the cells where it is then used for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar accumulates in the bloodstream instead of in the cells. High blood sugar levels are dangerous and can lead to symptoms of diabetes. These symptoms may include:

  • Frequently urinating, often at night

  • Increased thirst

  • Weight loss without trying

  • Increased hunger

  • Blurry vision

  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

  • Feeling very tired

  • Very dry skin

  • Sores that heal slowly

  • More infections than usual

Fundamental Vocabulary:


A test which measures the average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months. Typically the average blood sugar is put on a scale. This test shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cells, which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood.

Blood Glucose:

The main sugar found in the blood, and is also the body’s main source of energy. Blood glucose may also be referred to as blood sugars.


A hormone produced by the alpha cells in a pancreas which raises blood sugars. Glucagon in the form of injection may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.


A chemical produced when there in an insufficient amount of insulin in the blood. When there are ketones, the body breaks down fat for energy.


When there is an excessive amount of glucose in the blood, also known as high blood sugars.


Occurs when one’s blood sugars are too low from a lack of sugar in the blood, also known as a low blood sugar.

Hyper/hypoglycemia Unawareness: 

When someone with Type 1 Diabetes does not recognize or feel the symptoms of their high or low blood sugar.


A hormone used by those with Type 1 Diabetes through injection to supplement the hormones the pancreas no longer produces.

Long Acting Insulin:

A type of insulin that goes into effect within 4 to 6 hours after administering but is most active from 10 to 18 hours after injecting.

Short Acting Insulin:

A type of insulin that goes into effect within 30 minutes of injecting, but is most active from 2 to 5 hours after injection.

mg/dL and mmol/L: 

mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) and mmol/L (millimoles per liter), a unit of measure which shows the concentration of a substance in a fluid. In the US, blood sugar tests are read using mg/dL. Other countries may use mmol/L. To convert from mg/dL from mmol/L, multiply mmol/L by 18.  


  1. CDC. “Diabetes Home.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Aug. 2018,

  2. ADA. “Common Terms” American Diabetes Association.